To bee or not to bee? That is the question.
Though I love shmups, the themes do get tiresome after a while. We’ve seen so many ships zoom through space that its no longer impressive. Usually, fans have to resort to the “cute-em-up” subgenre for something different, but these are often so weird and bizarre that they’re not to everyone’s tastes. It’s therefore refreshing when we encounter a title like Beekyr Reloaded, which shifts things into a macroscopic world with a naturalist, insect theme. And y’know what? It’s good. Pretty damn good.
In this game, players don the mantle of a wayward bee whose hive has been destroyed by evil insects, particularly the likes of hornets and wasps. It’s up to the player’s bee – who has donned goggles and has an endless supply of rage to fuel his firepower – to commit insecticide in an effort to avenge his fallen brothers and sisters and the supply of honey they worked so hard to manufacture.
Get to the bottom of what’s bugging you.
Beekyr Reloaded is, for the most part, a 2D side-scrolling shooter affair. The majority of the stages scroll horizontally, from left-to-right, though there are a few vertical stages thrown in for good measure. Veterans of the genre will feel a definite hint of Gradius here, though also Parodius if you have a strange sense of humor. This game, however, never quite reaches the same levels of bullet hell, making it a more accessible title for newcomers to the shmup brand.
It touches on familiar tropes. You’ll be able to upgrade your firing power from pickups left by fallen enemies. Being killed means you restart with your basic shooter as before, so remaining alive counts for more than merely a high score. Our puny bee is armed with a devastating bomb, which naturally is in very limited in supply but utter devastating to anything on screen. And once you’ve cleared a section, you’ll be greeted by a mutant bug of ridiculous proportions. Or an arachnid. Or… oh, I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice to say, almost every possible insectoid nightmare is present and accounted for, and killing them is immensely satisfying, particularly with how they explode into huge blobs of bug goo. It’s a different kind of gory.
Merely a fly in the ointment.
Tired of shooting bugs on your lonesome? You’ll be pleased to know that you can rope in a friend to assist you in your bug-killing ways. Games like these are all sorts of crazy fun to tackle with a mate, and Beekyr Reloaded is no exception. In fact, some fights, particularly bosses, seem designed with co-op in mind. Besides that, there’s a host of various unlockable modes that ensure a degree of replayability, as well as an obligatory leaderboard if you just want to show off your shooting skills and be ranked among the finest bug-slayers out there.
As you can probably tell by the screenshots, this game has a rather interesting look. Sprites and background have a hand-drawn quality to them, and are highly-detailed. The whole “insect” theme is played to its maximum potential, with levels consisting of gigantic trees, patches of grass grown to obscene proportions, and assorted rivers and streams from a bug’s perspective, rendering them as colossal waterfalls. This might make it sound like it belongs in the aforementioned “cute-em-up” category, but don’t be fooled. The title does manage to illicit some solid atmosphere and a feeling of dread, making extensive use of rain effects and dark, foreboding color schemes in some levels. On the audio side of things, fans of chiptunes will be pleased to know that they form the backbone of this game’s soundtrack, but in all honesty, it’s largely a hit-or-miss affair. I’ve honestly heard far better elsewhere, both in games and in plain casual releases.
Beekyr Reloaded is a fun shooter. It’s not going to blow you away with neat gimmicks or any sort of real innovation, but it’s perfectly competent and the insect theme is actually really refreshing. If you’re a shmup fan and you need to pad out your library, or you want to get into the genre and need a “gateway” title, Beekyr Reloaded could be just what you’re looking for. It’s especially fun if you can rope in a mate to join you in your shooting, or if you’re just looking to show off your scores. Either way, you need to shoot off to its official Steam page now if you intend on adding it to your must-play list.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Steam) ; Publisher: KaleidoGames, Indie Tribe ; Developer: KaleidoGames ; Players: single-player, local multiplayer, local co-op ; Released: the 14th of November, 2017.
Full discloure: this review is based on a review copy of Beekyr Reloaded given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.